Senior Spotlight: Sarah Markovich

by Kelly Clisham
photo of sarah markovich in alska

PharmD Grad Sarah Markovich Is on Top of the World

While fellow Wilkes Class of 2024 students finished their last semester studying for finals, attending celebrations and preparing to walk across the graduation stage, pharmacy student Sarah Markovich was almost half a world away — in Alaska. 

“I found out about this opportunity to take a spring APPE (Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience) five-week elective public health rotation in Fairbanks,” says Markovich. During those five weeks, Markovich, two other pharmacy students and Mary McManus, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, collaborated on a project that involved establishing a mobile homeless healthcare clinic for the Fairbanks area. 

For Markovich, the trip was life-changing and helped build some real-world skills. “It’s given me a really good perspective about how things get done. Not just here, but everywhere. Working with the team, with community partners and outreach — real boots-on-the-ground stuff,” she says. She also liked the ongoing nature of the project. “It’s constantly in motion. We had an impact in these five weeks moving it forward, and the next team will continue the work.”

sarah markovich in a wilkes pharmacy sweatshirt in front of snow capped mountains

Another benefit of the trip was the opportunity to experience Alaska. “It’s incredible. It’s beautiful. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” Markovich says. During down-time, the team saw glaciers, fjords, spectacular northern lights and the mountains. “I love Pennsylvania and its mountains, but these were incredible.” She even drove a dog sled, “and I didn’t fall off!” 

The Alaska public service trip capped off Markovich’s stellar academic career, highlighted throughout with leadership and service that included being a member of the Honors Program and receiving its Community Leadership Award, serving as a resident assistant and an e-Mentor to first-year students, as secretary for both the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society, which represents the top 20% of the pharmacy class, and Lambda Kappa Sigma, a philanthropic pharmacy fraternity and president of the American Pharmacists Association chapter.. Markovich also played intramural volleyball and was a member of the pep band.

Back in high school, Markovich initially had a different career path in mind. “I was in junior ROTC, and I wanted to go into the military,” she says. “It gave me a super strong foundation of personal self-growth and development of leadership skills.” At the age of 14, she was already leading an entire corps of JROTC students. But in her senior year, Markovich had an epiphany. “I realized that the career I wanted in the military wouldn’t be conducive to a normal family life.” 

sarah markovich sitting on rocky area in front of blue water and snowy mountains

Around the same time, Markovich heard about Wilkes University from a former classmate in the pharmacy program, so she decided to visit. “I took a tour and fell in love with the campus immediately,” she says. While touring the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, “I learned about a research project the students were doing. They were trying to formulate an anti-nausea medication into a breath strip for people on chemotherapy who couldn’t swallow pills,” says Markovich. “My dad was on chemotherapy and had all of those side effects. And I thought, if I could make a change like that for somebody, helping to relieve their nausea and improve their quality of life — that’s when a light went off in my brain. I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she says. “I wanted to help people, make changes and give them a better life.” 

That’s exactly what Markovich will do following graduation. Pharmacy students have the option to do a postgraduate residency for one or two years (PGY1 and PGY2) to receive advanced clinical training, and Markovich chose to work in a hospital for her PGY1. She was matched with St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, where, she says, “I’ll be getting trained generally for hospital pharmacy my first year, and then I might do a second year and specialize in oncology, pediatrics, critical care or any one of my interests.”  

Markovich is excited about all the different paths she can take with her PharmD, and credits the faculty of the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy for her success in the program. “I’ve gotten such strong mentorship and support from the faculty. I love them all.”

What does Markovich have to say to high school students who are thinking of a pharmacy career? “There are so many things you can do with a pharmacy degree. It opens so many doors. If you have an interest in science and an interest in exploring many options, go for it!”

sarah markovich in front of alaska scenery

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